Recruitment consultants work to find the right people for the right vacancies. They use a variety of methods to ensure that companies fill positions.
What is a recruitment consultant?
As a recruitment consultant, you’ll work closely with employers to match candidates to job descriptions. You’ll assess the requirements of a role, then seek applicants that would suit the position. You’ll be part of the process from start to finish, often supporting applications, screening candidates, being part of interviews and receiving regular feedback from employers. You’ll also support candidates in the application process, such as helping them identify their key skills and strengths that would suit the role. This area of work is also referred to as talent acquisition.
Your methods could be recruiting with a set list of interested candidates who have already expressed their availability, or you could reach out directly to talented individuals who you think would be great for a particular role. You’ll usually work within a recruitment agency, though some specialist recruiters also work independently. You’ll often specialise in recruiting for a particular industry, such as education recruitment consultant jobs, though some agencies offer coverage across multiple areas.
As well as courses and training offered by your employer, you could access further training through regulatory bodies.
Your responsibilities when working in recruitment will vary depending on your level of experience, the structuring of your agency, and a client’s requirements. Common responsibilities include:
- Keeping up with key performance indicators, such as ensuring an expected number of filled vacancies is met.
- Meeting with employers (clients) and taking a detailed summary of the roles they are looking to recruit, such as understanding the skills, experience and personal attributes required to fulfil the role.
- Organising and facilitating interviews between candidates and employers.
- Organising interviews, occasionally taking charge of early stage interviews to assess a candidate’s suitability for more lengthy discussions.
- Planning applicant processes, such as creating applicant questionnaires or screening processes such as written tests.
- Planning recruitment campaigns to fill vacancies - this could be smaller campaigns such as advertising an individual vacancy, or running large scale recruitment events for bigger companies, such as attending graduate recruitment fairs.
- Providing information and answering questions for prospective applicants, such as explaining working hours and conditions, as well as sharing information on potential salaries and flexible working.
- Providing regular updates to recruiters for their campaigns.
- Reaching out to potential candidates directly (also known as headhunting).
- Retaining a good knowledge of the industries you recruit in to ensure you’re familiar with commonly used terms and modes of working.
- Screening applicants to roles, such as reviewing CVs and test answers, before offering further states of interview.
A recruitment consultant salary varies considerably depending on your recruiting industry, as well as your location and level of experience. Recruitment consultant jobs in London, for example, will attract higher salaries. Many recruiter salaries are advertised with bonuses based on performance called ‘on target earning’ (OTE) - so your actual take home pay will vary depending on your achievements within the role.
The recruitment salary in the UK is around £26,000 with a yearly bonus of around £9,000. A senior recruitment consultant salary could earn closer to £32,000 basic salary, with many positions advertising anything from an £80,000 - £100,000 OTE.
If you choose to start as an apprentice recruitment consultant, your salary will be £4.81 per hour if you are 16-19 in the first year of your apprenticeship. In subsequent years you’ll receive minimum wage for your age.
While there isn’t a set path into recruiting, you will usually need to be a graduate to be considered for roles. There are a variety of degrees that would set you in good stead for recruitment consultant jobs. These include:
- Business degrees
- Communications degrees
- Digital Marketing degrees
- Economics degrees
- Education degrees
- English degrees
- Marketing degrees
- Public Relations degrees
This isn’t an extensive list, but a good guide. To apply for a degree you’ll usually need a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grades 9-4 (A*-C) and 3 relevant A Levels. You may find that having a degree in a field related to the industry you recruit in, such as an education degree for education recruitment consultant jobs, might be helpful.
Alternatively, you could study towards a level 3 apprenticeship as a trainee recruitment consultant. You will usually need a minimum of 5 GCSEs to apply at grades 9-4 (A*-C). Some individuals also apply directly to recruiter roles if they have evidence of working in a sales and client facing role previously.
Training and development
Much of your training and development as a recruitment consultant will happen while you’re working. If you work for a large company, there may be in-house training that you must complete while working as a recruitment trainee. Alternatively, some employers may send you on set training programs or training events to prepare you for your work with other new recruits or consultants from other agencies. This could cover areas such as client management, business administration, and general applicant processes such as interviewing and CV analysis.
If you’re thinking of applying for recruitment consultant jobs, it’s a good idea to have some relevant work experience.
As well as courses and training offered by your employer, you could access further training through regulatory bodies. The Recruitment and Employment Federation (REC) offer networking opportunities, business support and training programs for recruiters, while the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) offer training and knowledge hubs on subjects such as employment law and negotiation strategies. You could even work towards a regulated qualification at Level 3 and upwards, if you don’t already have a set qualification in the field.
Your skills as a recruiter combine good knowledge of your recruiting industry and excellent interpersonal skills. These include:
- A detailed knowledge of the roles you’re recruiting for.
- A good knowledge of your recruiting industries, such as key terms used, common work expectations and duties.
- A good understanding of employment law and human resources, such as rights to flexible working, work time regulations and common expectations from employers.
- Ability to keep up with key performance indicators, such as recruiting a set number of candidates into roles for a client.
- Ability to work well within a team - you’ll likely work within a team of recruiters, so you’ll need to work well with others, especially when planned bonuses are based on team outputs over individual ones.
- Excellent time management skills - you may be expected to carry out multiple screening interviews within a set period of time, so you’ll need to keep on top of this to represent your client well.
- Excellent written communication skills for drafting job specifications and testing processes, as well as a keen ability to analyse CVs and cover letters to assess candidate suitability.
- Great negotiation skills - you may be required to negotiate salaries and work requirements with candidates.
- Interviewing skills - you’ll need to create a relaxed but professional environment where candidates feel comfortable to ensure they show their best.
- Marketing skills - you may be expected to work on marketing campaigns for clients, so an understanding of various advertising streams would be beneficial.
- Networking skills - you may be expected to attend recruitment events and present opportunities to potential candidates, so you’ll need to be a good networker.
- Organisational skills - you’ll need to be able to manage multiple client recruitment efforts and switch between these regularly.
If you’re thinking of applying for recruitment consultant jobs, it’s a good idea to have some relevant work experience. You could reach out to local recruitment agencies and ask to shadow members of staff to get an idea of the usual runnings of an agency, such as interviewing, writing up job descriptions and attending recruitment fairs. You may be given straightforward administrative tasks while shadowing, too.
Your work experience doesn’t necessarily have to be in a recruitment agency. Time spent in a role, or shadowing a role, that is customer facing, involves sales strategies and meeting set targets would all be beneficial evidence for your ability to take on a recruitment role. The key focus here is being able to explain why your work experience is relevant to a recruitment job.
As a recruitment consultant, you have plenty of opportunities to work your way up within the industry. Much of your work is target driven, so reaching strong numbers of recruited roles will be a great way to build your reputation and expertise quickly. You may find that you’re eligible for internal promotions after certain levels of performance.
As a recruitment consultant, you’ll work closely with employers to match candidates to job descriptions.
You could work towards becoming a senior recruitment consultant with high level caseloads, or even running your own agency with the right level of experience. Some recruitment professionals choose to go freelance, specialising in a particular industry and working directly with employers. Many individuals choose this path to access part time work around family commitments.
Your work as a recruitment consultant could also steer you towards human resources (HR) consultancy jobs. You might work within a large company working in-house as their recruitment lead, advertising positions and interviewing candidates.